Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Beating Up on Ethanol

Among other ideas suggested by Glover Park for “news-driving and public visibility events” are a “costumed ‘mascot’ ... to draw attention and distribute advocacy materials at local supermarkets,” and handing out coupons at supermarkets to “offset the ‘ethanol tax’ on staple goods.”

In addition, Glover Park suggested creating a brand name and Web site, as well as using direct outreach and earned and paid media, including producing an online viral campaign.

“Our strategy depends on sparking a high-volume, intense political battle,” the firm wrote, requesting a six-month $50,000 retainer for the publicity campaign. Expecting a tough fight, Glover Park wrote that the coalition must “be first to punch every time.”

The firm did not respond to several interview requests.

While Glover Park was hired to help manage the coalition, Faber says not everything in the proposal was adopted. So far, the members haven’t created a name or Web site and haven’t taken as aggressive an approach as Glover Park recommended.

“We’re doing everything in our power to educate legislators about the impacts of food to fuel mandates, hunger and environmental issue,” said Faber, who didn’t rule out ratcheting up efforts further.

Beyond hiring Glover Park, GMA also expanded its lobbying contract with Dutko Worldwide. The association is relying on Andy Wright, former chief of staff to Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), to develop a state-level grass-roots program.

Faber declined to discuss the association’s payment of Glover Park and Dutko.

Pro-ethanol companies and associations haven’t stayed out of the biofuels debate. Besides individual efforts by groups like the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association and the Advanced Biofuels Coalition, there have been different levels of coordination between them.

So far, a formal coalition hasn’t gotten off the ground, although members of different industry groups met Tuesday and expect to meet again next week to discuss coordination on the issue, according to Brent Erickson of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

“This has actually been going on for over a year and a half, even before food and fuel raised its head,” Erickson said. “For one reason or another, they haven’t gelled.”

Different efforts to address the “growing chorus of criticism” of biofuels have been circulating.

One proposal, obtained by Roll Call, calls for a coalition building effort that would include six to 10 entities with biofuels interests to contribute a total of $2 to $4 million in what is estimated to be a one- to two-year effort.

Possible membership included 14 companies and associations, including agribusiness giants like ADM, DuPont and Monsanto.

Still, Erickson says the industry has gotten some traction on Capitol Hill, especially with House and Senate leadership.

“There is a little bit of hysteria being worked up there by some of the food companies and environmental groups,” Erickson said.

“We’re starting to see now that it’s kind of moving back the other way. Yes there’s some work to do, but is the RFS really in danger?” he said. “My sense is no, not at this point.”

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